Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Church Folk - A Review

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Hachette Book Group for review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publisher.


It is now 1986, and the preachers of the Gospel United Church are preparing for their much-anticipated Triennial General Conference. The last time readers encountered the good Rev. Theophilus Simmons, he was a newlywed and the pastor of a modest-sized congregation in Memphis. Now he's the father of three and running a congregation in St. Louis. His best friend, Rev. Eddie Tate, is now with a fast growing church in Chicago, but he is getting real frustrated with the way things are run in the Gospel United Church. Marcel Brown and his father, Ernest, along with Sonny Washington and Bishop Larsen Giles have had two decades to perfect their slimy methods of "tapping" church funds and other misdeeds. Now they've found a secret weapon that will allow them to make fast money and accomplish what they failed to do 20 years ago--buy off enough power to dominate the entire denomination, put their cronies in key spots, and ransack the church like it is the spoils of war. It won't be long before the two opposing sides face off..."church-folk" style.

My Review

Who knew that a holy place, a place of gathering and worship can also be the perfect setting for Politics, Crime and Corruption. More Church Folks takes a stab at the issue with a comical and at times incredulous twist. The idea behind the story was relevant and gripping and it really had me thinking about all those church organizations here at home. Like Andrea Bowen, we question their true allegiance too and there are a lot of Babatundes, Caruthers and Hemphills amongst our church folks. But sadly aside from relating to the plot, there was little else that grabbed my attention.

My first issue with this book is oddly the same issue I had with The Twilight Saga Eclipse; too much narration. The readers don’t want to be told every single thing. We want to discover them on our own either through dialogue or through skillful prose. With More Church Folk, there was nothing that was left a mystery or left to the imagination of the readers. As a result of this reading parts of the book where it’s supposed to be exciting or suspenseful just came across as being very anti-climactic. 

Another issue that I had was the exaggeration of African American Culture in the story.  Julie @ Knitting and Sundries reviewed this book and noted that the author over exaggerated African American culture. Initially (and very foolishly) I disagreed with her thinking that African American culture made good fodder for the type of drama More Church Folks would bring. After reading the book myself I am proud to say I was wrong. The author did exaggerate African American culture to the extent that it made you do one of three things (or in my case all three); roll your eyes, yell “oh c’mon” or as Trinidadians frequently do steups.*   Admittedly it was a bit disappointing to have to read these exaggerations at points of the story where things were beginning to really look up for the prose.

With my issues aside, I really think that the plot was very original and for most of us very relatable. It was such a great idea to set the story in a gospel church since those congregations tend to be full of energy and lots and lots of drama. I liked all of the characters, even the bad ones because they each brought something different to the story. My issues feel weighty compared to the positives that i found in the book and for that reason I don’t think that More Church Folk will make it to my personal bookshelf but there are other reviewers who think differently. You can read all about it at  The Merry Genre Go Around Reviews and The Black Urban Times .

*According to urbandictionary.com, a steups is a trini slang used to describe sucking teeth. It usually connotes irritation, disgust or disbelief.

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